DOJ, NBI urged to go after ‘mafia’ behind Percy Lapid’s slay, other crimes in Bilibid
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) should go after alleged mafia members involved in the brazen murder of veteran radioman Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa and other crimes committed inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
Senator Risa Hontiveros issued this call on Thursday, while she hailed the arrest order on former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Gerald Bantag and his deputy Ricardo Zulueta for the death of NBP inmate Cristito Palana Villamor – the alleged middleman in the assassination of Lapid.
The development in the case, she noted, “brings us one crucial step closer to achieving justice for the killing of Ka Percy Lapid.”
“I urge General Bantag, being a former law enforcer himself, to cooperate with the authorities and do nothing to frustrate the administration of justice,” the legislator said in a statement.
But it must not stop there, Hontiveros stressed.
She said the DOJ and the NBI should “continue and expand” the probe beyond Bantag and Zulueta and likewise look into the “Ocho Boys” and other alleged members of the supposed mafia linked to the murder of Lapid and other crimes in the NBP.
“How far and deep does this network of corruption go? Everyone involved should be held accountable. No sacred cows should be protected, and no stone should be left unturned,” Hontiveros said.
The Ocho Boys was mentioned by an anonymous caller who had purportedly attempted to extort money from the Lapid family in exchange for information on the alleged involvement of Bantag in the broadcaster’s murder.
Hontiveros said the Lapid family recorded the phone call, but she urged the NBI and the Philippine National Police to “continue tracing the caller for the safety of the Lapid family.”
“Lastly, I hope that this latest development will help bring some form of relief to the family of Ka Percy Lapid and his supporters, and in the process, help dissuade those aiming to harm or kill journalists speaking truth to power,” she added.
The assassination of Lapid – the second journalist killed in the country under the Marcos administration and the 197th since 1986 – sparked an outcry among groups, lawmakers, and even international bodies which renewed the call to end media violence and killings.
The probe into Lapid’s death also put the spotlight on the perennial problems in the country’s penitentiary system, including the alleged involvement of BuCor officials and persons deprived of liberty in crimes beyond prison walls.